« AnteriorContinuar »
posed of those schemes which aim to give each party or group of the electorate representation in proportion to its voting strength, the second class being composed of those schemes which aim to give some representation to minorities although not necessarily a representation proportionate to voting strength. The first of these classes is commonly known as proportional representation, the second as minority representation.
Under Proportional or Minority Representation Schemes, Districts Must Not Be Single.-It may be said in advance of discussion that any scheme for proportional or minority representation requires the election of more than one representative from each district. Since the number of members in the legislative bodies is now as large as can well carry on business, such a change in the general system would probably best be accomplished by lessening the present number of districts and extending the limits of each district. It must be acknowledged, however, that this change would destroy one of the great advantages of the small-district system, in that the individual voters in the large district would in many cases be ignorant of the character of the candidates nominated, whereas in the small district such ignorance is unlikely.
The List System.-One of the schemes advanced to insure proportional representation is commonly known as the list or the free list system. By this system each political group in the electorate may nominate as many candidates as there are representatives to be elected. Each voter may cast as many votes as there are candidates to be elected, but is required to distribute his votes among the various candidates. Each vote cast is counted both for the individual candidate and for the political group by which he was nominated. Representation is then given to each political group in proportion to the number of votes given to its candidates. The individuals within the parties who are declared elected are determined by the total personal vote each has received.
To illustrate the operation of this system in its simplest
form, assume a district with an electorate of 10,000 and six representatives to choose. Three political groups, the Red, the Blue, and the Green, each nominate six candidates. Each voter casts six votes, distributing them among the various candidates, thus making a grand total of 60,000 votes cast in the district. When the count is made, it is found that the six candidates of the Blue party have collectively polled 30,000 votes, those of the Red party 20,000, those of the Green party 10,000. It is obvious with such results that Blue would elect three representatives, Red two, and Green one. The election returns might appear as follows:
Use of the List System.—The above system was used in Cuba in 1908 to elect representatives to the national legislative body and is now used for various elections in Norway, Sweden, France, Germany, Ireland, and most of the cantons of Switzerland. Its many advantages have led to a consideration of its adoption in France, England, and Holland. Forms of this system, although differing in details from it, as described above, have been introduced in Belgium and Japan, and are being discussed in various of the commonwealths of the United States. It seems the simplest and most just of the many schemes that have been proposed.
The Hare System.--Another system proposed to insure pro
portional representation is known as the Hare system, having been suggested by an Englishman named Hare. According to this system each voter has but one vote, but he is allowed to indicate his first, second, and third or more choices on a single ballot. The number of votes necessary to elect a candidate is found by dividing the number of representatives to be elected plus one into the total number of votes cast, and taking the next whole number above the quotient. This whole number may be called the electoral quota. As soon as any candidate receives as first choice of the electorate a number of votes equal to the electoral quota, he is declared elected and no more votes are counted for him. The surplus ballots on which such elected candidate is first choice are counted for the second choice on those ballots. After the second choice is elected, the third choice is counted.
To make this clearer, assume again the district with 10,000 electorate and five representatives to be elected. Under the Hare system 10,000 ballots will be voted, each ballot containing three names in order of preference. The electoral quotient
10,000 will be = 1666+. As soon as any candidate receives
5+1 1667 votes as first choice, he is declared elected, and any other ballots on which he is first choice are counted for the candidate on those ballots indicated as second choice. In case after the distribution of the surplus votes of elected candidates it is found that only four men have received over 1667 votes and thus been elected, the candidate who has received the smallest number of votes is eliminated and the ballots on which he was first choice are transferred to the second choice until some candidate receives the requisite number.
Objections to Hare System.-This system has the advantage of practically insuring to each voter that one of his three choices will be elected, but its disadvantages outweigh this consideration. It is very complex in operation, and the results * Thomas Hare (first edition of book 1859).
depend much upon chance. The order in which the ballots are taken and counted will materially change the result, inasmuch as the second choices upon the ballots counted for one man and the second choices upon the surplus ballots for that same man may materially differ. All ballots have to be brought to one central place for counting, and after they have been once counted, a recount is difficult.
Use of Hare System.—The system has been generally adopted in only one country of prominence; namely, Denmark. It is used in Tasmania, Finland, Scotland, and in a few cities in the United States. It is doubtful whether it would be successful in elections on a large scale and over a great area.
Minority Representation: Limited Vote Plan.-For insuring representation to minorities, although not necessarily in proportion to their voting strength, one scheme, known as the limited vote plan, has been adopted in some states. By this scheme each voter is allowed a number of votes, such number, however, being less than the number of representatives to be elected
Thus in the hypothetical district with an electorate of 10,000, and six representatives, each voter under this system would have four votes to be distributed among the various candidates. By careful organization the minority can nearly always be certain of electing two of the six representatives by casting the minority vote solidly for a certain two of the candidates, the majority vote being split up among the four or more candidates of the majority party.
The defects of this system lie in the necessity for complete party control, with the evils which may attend, and in the fact that it allows representation only to a large, well-organized minority. Where three political groups are trying to elect, it is probable that under this system one minority group will be left entirely without representation.
Use of Limited Vote. This system of the limited vote has been put in practice in a number of states with some success. Italy, Spain, and Portugal are among the most prominent
states which have adopted it. In the United States the system has been used in certain elections in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania."
Cumulative Vote. A second system intended to insure representation to a minority group of the electorate is known as the cumulative vote plan. By this plan each voter is given a number of votes equal to the number of representatives to be elected, and is allowed to distribute his votes in any way he wills, giving one to a candidate, all to one candidate, or otherwise.
This system, like the one mentioned just previously, requires for its successful operation careful party organization to provide against a great waste of votes. A popular candidate might otherwise receive the cumulative votes of his party far in excess of the number required to elect and other candidates of the same party fail to be elected in consequence. The political party machine must plan beforehand the most effective use of its votes.
Use of Cumulative Vote.—The most conspicuous trial of the cumulative vote plan has been made in the commonwealth of Illinois. As a rule the scheme has in operation given the minority party at least one representative in a district. Occasionally, where the party organization of the majority has failed to plan the vote correctly, the minority has elected more representatives than the majority.
Defense of Present System.—Theoretically, some form of Pennsylvania Constitution, Art. V, Section XVL. Whenever two judges of the supreme court are to be chosen for the same term of service, each voter shall vote for one only, and when three are to be chosen, he shall vote for no more than two; candidates highest in vote shall be declared elected.
Illinois Constitution, Art. IV, Sections 7 and 8. The house of representatives shall consist of three times the number of the members of the senate, and the term of office shall be two years. Three representatives shall be elected in each senatorial district at the general election in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy-two, and every two years thereafter. In all elections of representatives aforesaid, each qualified voter may cast as many votes for one candidate as there are representatives to be elected, or may distribute the same, or equal parts thereof, among the candilates, as he shall see fit; and the candidates highest in rotes shall be declared elected. (House Documents, Vol. 2.)